freedom moyo.jpgBy Sijabuliso Ndlovu

 

I remember back in 2009 when I was still based at Pockets Hill, I was off and doing my errands in the city centre in Harare when I received a call from work to inform me that the Manager Reporters then, Obrien Rwafa, wanted to see me first thing the following morning.

 
Not knowing what was going on, I went to work the next morning as instructed only to be told I was to immediately shift from the Nhau/ Indaba Radio News Desk to Reporters and prepare to take over from Freedom Moyo who was then Bureau Chief in Matabeleland North Province.

 

He was moving to Pockets Hill to assume his new post as the Manager Bulletins. This sounded scary – the thought of working in a new environment I was not very familiar with and most of all, taking over a province from a veteran and seasoned news reporter sounded too much.

 

For a few months while I was undergoing some training people referred to me as “Freedom in Waiting” until such a time that my bosses felt I was ready to go and start executing my duties as a Bureau Chief. But before I left, MaFree came to Pockets Hill and took time to chat with me, giving me an idea of what to expect in that province; the challenges, the nature of the stories I will spend most of the time doing and most importantly, how to approach political stories.

 

Upon arrival in Matebeleland North many people wanted to know where MaFree had gone and even today in Hwange, Victoria Falls, Binga etc, they still ask, “Ko Freedom akaendepi? Kanti uMaFree sowayangaphi?” and our answer has always been the same, ‘He is now our Boss and is at Pockets Hill, Highlands.”

 

“Saka MaFree avekupfeka suit everyday. Varume life is good…” And we would all laugh at the thought of him putting on a suit everyday since he was known for being casual in the province. And not everybody may know that he is no more.

 

In fact just a day after he was laid to rest, I met several people in Bulawayo who had no idea that Freedom is no more. I can then imagine in areas where people hardly enjoy radio transmission. We will meet more in Matebeleland North and how will we say it to them that MaFree, as he was affectionately known, is no more?

 

He was so well known in that province that people from very remote areas of Matabeleland North still often ask his whereabouts and this is evident that it is not just ZBC that has been robbed, the whole province and indeed the nation at large has been robbed.

 

He was a friend and mentor who shared jokes and laughed with everyone, but most importantly, he brought himself down to the level of his subordinates. I will never forget the hot October morning we went for a 100-metre race with other journalists in Binga, him included.

 

The most exciting thing about that race is that I beat my boss and all he could say was, “Ahh! S`ja, you are too fast.” How often do we do this with our bosses and how many of them are willing to reduce themselves to that level? Yet when it was time for business we all knew it was time to work.

 

I remember when the late Andrew Muntanga was declared a national hero, Freedom sent me a message that he wanted a documentary by lunch time the following day and he meant what he said. For the first time since I joined ZBC News, I discovered I could produce a documentary in a matter of hours and get it delivered on time as instructed.

 

I remember responding to his text messages every day when he was in China. He constantly mentioned how much he missed reporting and that he would gladly become a reporter given the option. He knew what he was doing and took the credit for quality stories we did through the contributions he made during diary meetings.

 

For me, he has left a challenge in Matebeleland North. I can only be thankful for the tips he used to give me and these are the tips that have made my life a lot easier despite several challenges that one has to deal with as a Bureau Chief. The gap that he has left, no one can fill. He was at a level of his own and there can never be another one like him.

 

I know that there are many in the newsrooms both at Montrose and at Pockets Hill who agree that ZBC News and Current Affairs Department will never be the same again without his intelligent ideas.

 

No wonder the ZBC News staff said about him, “He was a manager at the same time he was a subordinate.”

 

Yes, he was a man of the people. A favourite to all and one of the finest journalists who knew what made a good story.

 

He loved to talk; he loved to laugh and was always a humble man who showed that meekness is not weakness. He was a man of his word.

 

MaFree was incomparable. A companion and professional has departed.

 

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists President Dumisani Sibanda said about him, ”If there was a hero’s acre for journalists then Freedom would surely be buried there because the man is a hero.”

 

We will surely miss him. May his soul rest in peace!!!!